Archive for June, 2010

Winds of Change

Wind Farm © Jim Korpi

Tractor trailor trucks crowd our highways and make one wonder what ever happened to trains and how can it be economical for all those big rigs to run all over the country.
But there is something I’ve been seeing a lot of on the back of these trucks that brings a smile to my face.
The wings of a windmill look small in the distance, but when an escorted wide-load passes you on an interstate with one wobbling on its extended trailer you’re humbled by the size and the knowledge that this is only one piece of a giant.

Here’s the Beef

Colorado Feedlot © Jim Korpi

The land is vast, but taxes surely make it expensive. What is the answer?
There are thousands of cows placed on a small plot of land. Food is dumped into troughs, and manure is scooped away. It’s extremely efficient.
The smell is somewhat nostalgic if you have grown up on a farm, but this is not your grandfather’s family farm. These CAFO’s are jarring in their depiction of what is truly for dinner.
Is efficiency what we desire in our animal related agriculture? This is the kind of question we must ask if we are truly to be a sustainable nation.

Search for Sustainability

Iowa Ditch Weed © Jim Korpi

Irony can be so cruel.
Annah and I parted ways in Iowa City, Iowa. I was in search of sustainability. Annah was on her way back to Athens to make our lives a bit more sustainable. Rent never rests.
She had flown into Columbus, Ohio. I was navigating our 1980 diesel wagon across the fields of Iowa, hoping to make Nebraska by sunset. After a lengthy layover in Chicago, she landed safely at 3 a.m. in Columbus. I stumbled upon rows of “ditch weed,” bordering the oceans of industrial soy beans and corn, while attempting to photograph feedlots on Iowa back roads.
Annah directed the cab driver towards her friends house in Columbus. She paused for roughly five seconds in her decision of whether to turn left or right at an intersection. That five seconds could have made all the difference.
I came close to Nebraska, but ran out of diesel and steam near Dave’s World truck stop in Onawa, Iowa. I pulled my back seat down and made a bed of my car.
Annah eventually told the cab driver to make the turn. A car coming in their direction swerved into the cab’s lane and then swerved again. His car slammed into a telephone pole. He was drunk.


Red Maple Roots © Jim Korpi

It’s old. Maybe 100 years. Hell, maybe 200. The rings are rotten in the middle, so it’s hard knowin’ not countin’.
But Sheila’s house is caving in from the root system hitting her basement wall, and ours is being pushed to its foundational limits.
Half and half. That’s how they split the bill after a local group of entrepreneurs made our decaying red maple into next winter’s firewood.
It was a conundrum. The giant tree sat exactly in the center of the imaginary line dividing Sheila’s property from ours, which we rent. She wasn’t willing to let the expanding roots deform her house any longer. It had to come down. My landlord wasn’t so concerned. He questioned whether it was worth the cost considering the shape of the house and thought it would be more financially cunning to allow the tree its natural right of taking out the house. This way insurance money could be collected and a more profitable unit built.
The tree is down. There’s more sun on the back porch, and Sheila seems less concerned.